Oilstones and water and diamonds oh my!

I’m now halfway through ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest‘ and have just finished the section on sharpening. It’s a good part to be reading as part of the plan for this cold and rainy day is to build new cases for my sharpening stones.

I have a mix of oilstones from a $10 hardware store special to some cheap but good old eBay buys. I also have a combination waterstone, a set of low end diamond plates, a bench grinder and a big old tile that I use with wet & dry for flattening stones. This last item is why this particular passage has amused me

“Some wood workers flatten their stones using wet/dry sandpaper stuck to a flat surface. This is ghastly expensive. You might get only two flattenings on a sheet of paper before it’s trashed. Unless you own a sandpaper factory, burn your money on something else.”

I’m not exactly sure where he’s getting his w&d but I’ve used this method and it’s not been bad, or overly expensive. Admittedly the line in the second sentence might be a giveaway – ‘I have’ rather than ‘I use”. If I don’t get a perfect edge in a few seconds I buy something else to see if it works better. This is symptomatic of my experience with just about every hobby I’ve tried and given the content of Chris’s book I don’t think I’m alone. If I was using my stones as much as he is I might find the cost factor very different.

I’m going to break the trend today if I can, put proper boxes on my oilstones and sharpen all my chisels. I’m going to persevere until I get it right. Then and only then can I look at using other methods if needed, though I suspect if I nail the oilstone method the other gear may end up in that big plastic box of tools destined for eBay.


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